Does God answer prayer? Absolutely, yes, as both the Bible and our experience tells us. We know from history that serious prayer often or possibly always precedes great revivals. In the Old Testament Daniel was even led to pray and fast as he saw the date approaching for the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy–God had promised to bring the people of Israel back to their land after 70 years, and even this promised event was carried out on the prayers of faithful Daniel.
We are longing to see a great work of the Holy Spirit in our ministry and to that end, we believe that prayer is the vital ingredient. Ray and I first committed to praying together each morning back in 2011, when we came to the end of ourselves in the ministry. We saw experientially that we can accomplish nothing apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. But it wasn’t until 2018 that we actually developed a system for our intercessory prayer. Although we prayed with passion each morning, the reality was that some important matters slipped our minds, and other prayers became repetitive. Not only that, many answers to prayer that we received went unnoticed because we had forgotten what we had prayed for and in the process we lost the opportunity to thank God and strengthen our faith.
So we began using a system, and as we’ve used it these past two years, we would not want to go back. Our prayers are more focused and deeper and we love getting to write down the answers to many of them. I am going to describe what we do in this blog post, in hopes that it might inspire you, our reader, in your own prayer life.
Throughout the decades of my Christian walk, I have always seen and heard about keeping a prayer journal, but had concerns about it being confusing or unwieldly. We haven’t found that to be the case but it did take some trial and error to figure out how to make it serve our needs. What we have done is taken each day of the week and divided it into a category. Here are our categories: Sunday–revival and holiness; Monday–relatives; Tuesday–our church members and raising up church leadership; Wednesday–our children and grandchild; Thursday–nonbelievers; Friday–friends and missionary co-workers; Saturday–missions. I purchased a blank, lined journal and I found that each of these categories really only need about a page with a few notes to remind us who to pray for.
In addition to the weekly categories, we have a section for immediate needs. This is our longest section. I write in dark blue for petitions and in orange for answers to prayer. It is organized by date. I find sometimes an answer to a prayer comes and I realize I never wrote the prayer request down, as not all of them make it on paper. That is okay, I take my orange pen, write down the date and the thanksgiving to God. In this way I can quickly go back and see what wonderful provisions God has given over the preceding weeks and months, and also to pray afresh for any petitions that are still awaiting an answer. This has been a great blessing, to look back and see how God has been at work. Many times He gives a yes answer, and other times a resounding no. We are thankful we have a heavenly Father who doesn’t always give us what we ask for, because He is so much wiser than we are.
A newer but still beloved part of our system is the prayer calendar. So each day we have our topic based on the day of the week, we have whatever immediate petitions to bring before God’s throne, and then we pray for the day of the month in our prayer calendars. Right now we go through the Belize prayer calendar, the Uruguay prayer calendar, a calendar for the missionaries in our region, and then the Mission to the World prayer calendar. Prayer calendars are a wonderful way to remember to pray for what is important to us! I made a folder, as you can see in the photos, to keep our prayer calendars together in one spot. In the past I have hung a prayer calendar up in the kitchen as well, to focus my prayers during meal preparations. I would highly recommend using prayer calendars for powerful intercessory prayer. You are welcome to follow the links for the three I have provided, or find others as well. If you have a favorite missionary you follow, I would encourage you to ask them to make a prayer calendar for their country. The one I did for Uruguay is in a format that can be used over and over, month in and month out. It is a great way to be focused on praying for a country, or people group, or ministry.
The last method is one that I have been using since 2016 as a way to use stray moments in my day for intercessory prayer. I have a group of 3×5 cards that I try to take with me so that if I am out walking or waiting in the car, or if I have a few extra minutes in the day, I can use them productively. I have a card for Ray and each of my children and my grandchild, and a few other cards for things very important to me. I change them out about once a year, so I primarily put longer term prayer requests, and verses that I want to pray for each person. After a while, so many prayers get answered, and there are other newer ones to take their place, so eventually I have to make new ones. I also keep any verses I am memorizing in my card envelope.
I can think of no ministry as important in our world today than that of intercessory prayer. I hope some of these ideas might inspire you as you develop and refine your own system. In this blog post I focused on making a system for personal or family intercessory prayer. Of course, there is an important corporate aspect to intercessory prayer and we should seek to pray also with our brothers and sisters in the church and take part with enthusiasm in the pastor’s prayer during the worship service. There is nothing like hearing our brothers and sisters talk to the Lord to stimulate our own prayers, and when 3 or 5 or 10 or 200 of us are all in agreement in prayer there is even more power.